Six, One, Sixteen

Today’s the first of June. We can officially move into our new house today – although it’ll drag on for a few days, as our schedules allow. We hadn’t even paid the first rent, two days ago, and she handed us keys. It’s all been pretty magical. It’s a lovely, historic, sprawling, frankly ridiculous sort of a property; ridiculous for our price range and life circumstances, anyhow. And it’s been so long since we lived in a Place.

I detest people throwing around a word like “homeless”, and I still don’t want to apply it to my situation. (But how much of that is shame? How much of that is some misguided idea of what houselessness actually means?) Certainly we have been houseless, in that we have not owned a home or paid rent on a property, for five months. We’ve been living with friends, and anyone lucky enough to have friends like ours should be ashamed to complain, ashamed to use a word like “homeless”. We have been taken in and cared for. We’ve had access to the main house, have cooked our meals in the lovely kitchen and showered in the lovely bathroom; have, for most of our time here, lived in a communal and friendly sort of way. But we sleep in what amounts to a storage unit, a partly-converted garage, stocked with boxes of our things; the things we brought from home.

The anxiety in the pit of my stomach that says being this dependent on others is reprehensible has gotten worse every time our gracious host has walked in at just the wrong moment to find our toddler dancing naked, or trying to roll up the carpet, or pulling a loud and incomprehensible freakout. It was one thing when it was January and I was pregnant and still able to run after Toddler, for the most part, and we were going to find our own place just about any time now; after the baby came, it got harder.

We were going to find our own place — before we move. Then, very soon after we move. Then, at least before the baby comes. She’s now three months old. A few weeks ago I pulled up my britches and decided that I would do the talking, and I got us the place. And it may be excessive in rent, and too large to really manage, and next to a damned parking lot, but  I prioritized getting out of here, and now we are glimpsing our glorious freedom and it’s good.

It’s been hard. Our relationship has strained, but it hasn’t cracked. One of the most unique and beautiful things about our relationship, though, is that we have — and I mean this, despite everything, in a good way — nowhere to go but up. We didn’t have the foundation of friendship and love that most people do when they welcome a baby; we hardly knew each other, and learning to respect each other has been hard, but it’s also been a blank slate. Our story – the first part of our story – deserves another blog post, but suffice it right now to say that the blank slate has been a good thing for us, in this space (parenthood) where there’s so much opportunity to show each other our patience and our strength.

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